By Tommy Parker, Group Manager Highways
Of late, the NZ Transport Agency has increased its efforts on quality – specifically, a focus on data quality and the quality of new pavements – to get better outcomes.
We have been working to up the emphasis on data quality because if you don’t know where you’re at, it’s hard to determine where you need to be.
Good progress has been made in this area. We now have all of our networks loading maintenance activity data on time.
This improvement seems to also have extended to other contract types, as the importance and benefits of having accurate asset information is communicated and understood.
This increased data quality also gives us a more definitive view on how the results of our network outcomes contracts roll-out is going.
So what have we learned so far? Our assessment to date is that the Network Outcomes Contracts (NOCs) bring to the forefront maintaining a safe, reliable and resilient network for our customer.
The particularly good news is suppliers are performing very well on the health and safety key result area, with three contracts achieving outstanding results for this outcome.
I am thrilled with this result, as this key result area is of utmost importance on our journey to Zero Harm. The contracts have the tools and processes embedded to support this, and these are being extended to support smaller subcontractors.
Another area where our contractors are performing well is the road user safety key result area. This measures our opportunities to improve safety outcomes for customers, and as such is very important to us.
I’m heartened by what I see as being increased ownership and buy-in to keeping our customers safe – it’s a win-win.
Most of you, if not all of you, will have read the December Contractor feature on industry perspectives on our new NOC contracts. At the risk of repeating myself, we are pleased with how the outcomes from this roll-out are tracking, and now have eight different primary contractors that hold NOCs.
The healthy market requirements of the contracts seem to be effective in driving consideration of the broader market sustainability issues.
Some of you will know we have recently changed our supplier selection method from a Price Quality approach to Purchaser Nominated Price, after listening to industry concerns over tight pricing. We are satisfied this change is working, and we have now committed to using this approach to supplier selection for the remaining NOC tenders.
We now have 17 NOCs underway, and performance assessments have been completed for seven NOCs based on the 2014/15 financial year performance. Four networks were considered to be operating at best practice and received a financial reward through the key result area regime.
The completion of management plans and ensuring national consistency is proving a continuing challenge, both to industry and ourselves, and this is an area where we may need to focus our efforts in the near future.
And talking on focusing our efforts in the near future, we are also taking the opportunity this year to review our procedures and methods for constructing pavements.
We believe there is great opportunity for us to improve the quality of our capital projects to ensure we get the best results from our capital improvement investment.
We have a group representing our contractors, consultants and the client working on this initiative, and we are likely to be making some changes to our procedures, specifications and guidelines in coming months.